A report released by the DMV Wednesday reveals that driverless cars have a long way to go before they can actually become driverless.
The data from the Department of Motor Vehicles includes autonomous vehicle test results from 11 companies. The information includes details of when drivers had to take control of the cars, either because the test driver felt uncomfortable or due to a glitch in the technology. The data only includes miles traveled on public roads in California, and doesn’t include testing at private facilities or outside the state.
Bryant Walker Smith, scholar for Stanford Law School’s Center for Internet and Society says”there are more questions that need answers; such as what would happen if the driver didn’t intervene. Would the car know to pull to the side of the road to avoid a collision? how ‘bad’ the hypothetical outcome avoided by a driver-initiated disengagement needs to be for Waymo (for example) to include such a disengagement in its count,” he said. “In other words, if the driver hadn’t intervened in any given instance, would a crash have necessarily resulted?”
Delphi Automotive Systems, for example, reported several instances where the cars could not read traffic signals due to “poor sun conditions,” or when the cars had trouble changing lanes during heavy traffic. Google’s Waymo, on the other hand, said the human drivers had to take over most often due to software discrepancies, followed by an unwanted maneuver of the car or the reckless behavior of another driver. Other times, humans took over because there was heavy pedestrian traffic or out of extra caution for a cyclist sharing the road.
Honda and Volkswagon — said they never tested the vehicles on public roads. The others ranged from 530 miles logged by Tesla during only one month in 2016 to the 635,868 miles traveled by Google’s Waymo vehicles.